Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dusting Off The Muse

Sometimes it's the precise alignment of the words that draws me into a book; other times it's the story. The ones that stay with me, though, burrowed in the recesses of my brain where I would think more usable information might be better saved, are those that weave language and events into a history so detailed it is as if it becomes my own.

Isabel Allende opened Two Words, one of her short stories, with this line:

"She went by the name of Belisa Crepusculario, not because she had been baptized with that name or given it by her mother, but because she herself had searched until she found the poetry of 'beauty' and 'twilight' and cloaked herself in it."

The ability to fuse language, love and story layout in contemporary literature has also been mastered by Nelson DeMille, Pat Conroy, and Anita Diamant. I read for balance: sarcasm and sentimentality; the feminine and the masculine; a series of scenes and an epic journey. These writers have created my favorite books. They've ventilated my best loved characters from nothingness to breath.

If I have a muse, it is my library. In third grade I won an award for writing the best stories. I also won for reading the most books. As my teacher unfurled my prize--the laminated poster of a unicorn--she described the interconnectedness of these two accomplishments to the class. "You can't be a writer without being a reader," she said.

Twenty-two years later, I've still got the reading part down. Perhaps it's time to get back to work on the other part of the equation.

Recommended Reading:

The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Beach Music by Pat Conroy
The Gate House by Nelson DeMille
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant


Mrs. Chicken said...

"my Losing Season" by Conroy.

Anything by William Styron.

Also, Alice Sebold.

Major Bedhead said...

I absolutely love Pat Conroy. Beach Music made me weep. Anne Rivers Siddons is another author who writes in a similar vein as Conroy - Outer Banks and Colony are two of hers that are standouts in an already-outstanding list of books.

Heather said...

I agree with that completely. I write better when I've been reading a lot...which hasn't happened in about 7 1/2 months.